As a participant in the National Floodplain Insurance Program (NFIP), Cary has adopted flood damage prevention ordinances (LDO section 7.5) intended to reduce the risk of flood damage to insurable structures and help ensure the safety of our citizens. These ordinances prohibit development in designated floodplain areas to protect citizens, reduce property damage from flooding, and allow a stream, channel, and waterway’s floodplains to function naturally without obstructions.
If your home or business is mapped within the Flood Hazard Area as delineated on the published Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), your mortgage company may require that you purchase flood insurance. Federally backed flood insurance is available for all properties in Cary regardless of whether they are inside or outside the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated floodplain.
Commonly Used Terms
The NFIP legal definition of a flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow.
A floodplain is land which has been or may be covered by floodwater during a storm event. The FEMA designated floodplain includes both the floodway and flood fringe areas. The land does not need to be designated by FEMA to function as a floodplain. Any land adjacent to a body of water may be capable of being covered with floodwater during a storm.
The floodway is a regulatory boundary that includes the channel of a river, stream or drainage way, and those portions of the floodplain where higher velocity and increased flood damage can be expected during a heavy flood. Development of any kind is not allowed in the floodway without a permit.
The flood fringe is the portion of the floodplain outside of the floodway but still contained within the floodplain boundary. This area is generally associated with standing water rather than flowing water. Development is also restricted in this area per the floodplain development ordinance.
Flood Insurance Rate Maps
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) depict the FEMA designated floodplain for the entire state of North Carolina. Flood Insurance Study have been completed, periodically updated, and are the basis for the FIRM. The FIRM establishes flood zones to determine areas of higher risk to flooding. In partnership with FEMA, North Carolina became the first state to assume responsibility for floodplain mapping.
FIRM maps for Cary and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, or planning jurisdiction, are also available at Town Hall in paper and digital form. The effective FIRMs are based off a May 2, 2006 Flood Insurance Study. Currently, new FIRMs have been developed and are out for public comment.
More on Flood Hazard MappingSee FEMA's flood mapping information categorized for homeowners, insurers, lenders, and surveyors. Learn how to read flood insurance rate maps, how to challenge a lender's determination that your property is in a flood zone, and more.
To view floodplain maps
NC Flood Maps
Flood insurance information
Information on the National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA)
National Flood Insurance Program (official website)
How to read flood insurance rate maps (FEMA)
Building regulations within a floodplain
Town of Cary Land Development Ordinance
Dan Clinton, P.E. C.F.M., C.S.M.
Water Resources Department